Homeowner Associations in New York to Make Way for Solar Power

Homeowner Associations (HOAs) are given broad authority in New York State to enforce covenants, conditions, and restrictions in efforts to manage a community of homes. Absent an unlawful purpose or improper internal procedures, HOAs have been largely permitted to develop and manage their properties as they deem fit. This broad authority included an HOA’s ability to prohibit a homeowner from installing a solar power system on his or her property. However, as New York continues to adopt various green initiatives, this is set to change.…

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It’s About Time—New York PSC’s New Approval Timeline

Historically, the process to complete large scale utility projects has gone at a deliberate pace. Beyond the traditional issues with any new construction or large scale project, delays were attributed to the extended approval process required by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC). However, on April 3, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which “aimed at improving the siting and construction of large-scale renewable energy projects in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective …

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Can “Microrobots” Help Humans Battle Microplastics Pollution?

The presence of microplastics—fragments of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters—is ever increasing across all types of environments, from cities to waterways. Moreover, microplastics do not biodegrade easily; the process can take hundreds of years. The ubiquity of durable microplastics in our environment, and the challenges we face in removing them due to their small size, has resulted in a significant amount of research intended to assess the ways by which microplastics can be eliminated.

A recent study in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the …

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Air Quality Control Board Votes to Cut Emissions in Southern California

Southern California is known for its beautiful beaches, perfect weather, and for being the smoggiest region in the nation. On May 7, 2021, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) passed the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule (Warehouse Rule) in a 9-4 vote in an effort to combat Southern California’s smog problem. The Warehouse Rule is essentially a program that will focus on reducing the exposure of nitrogen oxide and diesel particulate matter in the air over the next three years. Specifically, the Warehouse Rule …

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Can Biofilm Engineering Be Used to Address Microplastics Pollution?

Microplastics, which are fragments of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters, have increasingly been released into the environment over the last several decades—primarily into bodies of water—whether during production, use, or degradation of plastic products. Microplastics have been found in over one hundred aquatic species, in sources of food such as crops, and within large plastic debris piles floating across the ocean. The prevalence of microplastics pollution across ecosystems, exacerbated by the fact that microplastics are not easy to biodegrade, has prompted proposals and passage of …

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A Change is Gonna Come … (and it’s kinda sorta already here)

The legendary singer/songwriter Sam Cooke may have intended for his 1964 anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come,” to be a protest song to surreptitiously fuel the civil rights movement and its pursuit of social justice, but little did he know the soulful R&B melody may realize its revival in the Biden administration as the U.S. Environmental Agency’s (EPA’s) new battle cry for environmental justice.

The EPA defines environmental justice (EJ) academically as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, …

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New York Becomes Second State to Ban Plastic Toiletry Bottles in Hotels—the Latest Subject of Single-Use Plastics Bans

In April, New York became the second state to pass a law prohibiting hotels from offering their guests personal care products in single-use plastic bottles. Set to go into effect on January 1, 2024 for hotels with 50 rooms or more and January 1, 2025 for hotels with less than 50 rooms, the law, which is included in New York’s Environmental Conservation Law, restricts “hotels from making available to hotel guests small plastic bottle hospitality personal care products.” The legislation defines “small plastic bottle” as …

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Government Accountability Office Uncovers Regulatory Vacuum for Offshore Oil and Gas Pipelines

In April, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report recommending the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) take actions to further develop, finalize, and implement updated pipeline regulations to address limitations regarding the BSEE’s ability to ensure the integrity of offshore oil and gas pipelines—and to address safety and environmental risks associated with pipeline decommissioning. BSEE is responsible for enforcing standards and regulations for oil and gas operations in federal offshore waters of which there has been 40,000 miles …

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Another Former Potomac River Paper Mill Strikes Costly Settlement Deal to Avoid Lengthy Pollution Litigation

Verso Corporation and Verso Luke LLC, owners of the now closed Luke Paper Mill, became the latest potentially responsible parties (PRP) to resolve claims against them for discharging waste into the North Branch Potomac River. The mill manufactured paper products along the river, which straddles the Maryland-West Virginia border. 

On April 6, 2019, a fisherman reported to Maryland that “pure black waste” was entering the river near the mill. Subsequent investigations revealed black liquid seeping from several locations along approximately 500 feet of riverbank located on the mill’s property …

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The Battle for Biofuel Exemptions Heads to the Supreme Court

In a bid to curb the emission of greenhouse gasses and reduce American dependence on foreign oil sources, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS imposes Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) on transportation fuel producers in the U.S., requiring them to include a threshold amount—increasing annually—of renewable fuels such as those derived from corn, grain, or sugarcane.

Though hailed by environmental groups as a step in the right direction, the RFS has promulgated the acceleration of …

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